Preparing for climate change

Scion provides vital information to New Zealand forest growers about the effects of climate change on forest productivity and tree health and how forests may help mitigate changes.


See how climate change may affect planted forests in New Zealand [pdf poster]

What can we expect from global warming?

Changing climatic conditions are likely to increase the risks of flooding, fire, weeds, forest pests and diseases. On the positive side, opportunities could emerge for different tree species.

We are helping forest growers to manage the risks associated with extreme weather events brought about by rising temperatures. We can predict changes in productivity, pest and disease distribution, and other risks such as fire, floods and erosion using our modelling capability. This information can help forest managers adapt to changing climatic conditions.

Our work for the Ministry for Primary Industries to prepare New Zealand for likely changing conditions is carried out under the Sustainable Land Management & Climate Change (SLMACC) programme.

Scion is also a partner in the National Science Challenge Resilience to Nature’s Challenges.

Read about Forests and people: investing in a sustainable future

Our scientists are also actively involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic impacts of climate change.

For further information on the growing a biofuelled New Zealand visit:

Read our climate change publications for information on:


How can planting forests help?

The bioeconomy holds the key to our future sustainability and will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, with forestry as a renewable resource being a major contributor.

Trees provide a valuable source of timber, fibre, food and energy while also protecting the environment by stabilising soils, improving water quality, storing carbon, and supporting biodiversity. We can produce biomaterials and biofuels from their fibre, and bioenergy from their cells to replace fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.

Forestry is New Zealand’s third highest export earner. As well as growing and processing trees being a primary industry, it is a primary source of employment and economic wealth. The recreational value of forests also play a vital role in maintaining our health and wellbeing.

Scion is working closely with the forestry industry to grow forest productivity and manufacturing, and build a more sustainable biobased economy for the future.

Scion contributed to the Royal Society of New Zealand report on climate change mitigation options released in 2016. The report, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand, includes forestry and other land-uses as an opportunity for immediate action.

Read about the Paris Climate Agreement and current forest plantings.

We can help with:

  • Climate change impacts, including fire, wind, and biosecurity risks
  • Spatial and temporal modelling
  • Site and species selection for plantations
  • Modelling other environmental benefits of forests
  • Soil science
  • Economics.


Tim Payn, Scientist, Forest Ecology and Management

Paul Bennett, Portfolio Leader, Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering